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Monastic Sisters Of Bethlehem


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Thanks for posting your experience here Gabriela, and to all the others as well :like: I have been a few times to Livingston Manor and one of the monasteries of Bethlehem in France, though never the Carthusians. I really appreciate your sharing especially about visiting the Carthusian Nuns because that is so rare!

 

Another difference between the two is that Carthusian Nuns profess Solemn Vows (& also receive the Consecration of Virgins) while Bethlehem does not. They cannot profess Solemn Vows since they are not in an Order so technically they are not Nuns but Monastic Sisters, as they write in their vocation pamphlet. I don't mean to say this though to imply that one is better than the other, just technicalities. I love Bethlehem and they have a lot of vocations and foundations throughout the world.

 

I am not sure if Carthusian Nuns have Papal Enclosure with their Solemn Vows though. Many Benedictine Nuns' monasteries have Constitutional Enclosure though they profess Solemn Vows.

 

I'm pretty certain that in order to have Papal Enclosure you have to be in an Order and have Solemn Vows. But not all Nuns in Solemn Vows are under Papal Enclosure, again like many Benedictines.

 

But anyway, Carthusian Nuns seem to keep enclosure very strictly, whether it's Papal or Constitutional. Again good to know and hear your experience Gabriela!

 

One thing Bethlehem and Benedictines definitely do have in common is their welcoming guests for retreats, which is great and much needed! :pray:

 

 

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393 Our Lady of Lourdes Camp Road Livingston Manor, NY 12758 U.S.A. +1/845 439 43 00

I just came back from a 6 night retreat at the hermitages of the Monastic Sisters of Bethlehem in Livingston Manor, NY and it was the most incredible retreat experience of my entire life.  Getting to

They must now have heat in the hermitages! They didn't used to have them available during the winter months. BRING a lot of warm clothing. Often there is a 20 degree difference from the village to the

I just don't want someone on here going to discern with the MFB thinking that they'll be guaranteed Carthusian-esque solitude, when the MFB does not in fact guarantee that. I flew all the way to France to find that out. It was super disappointing.

 

That being said, the NY house is an amesome place to make a retreat. As a retreatant, you will have all the silence and solitude you could ever hope for.

 

Wait, Gabriela, I have a question. You weren't disappointed by the solitude of the Carthusian Nuns in France though right? You mean here Bethlehem right?

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One more difference is also that the Monastic Sisters of Bethlehem can be moved from house to house, although it is not frequent they told me, and if I remember correctly one of their vows does include stability to one monastery, so it may be that it's much less likely after they are professed. But for Carthusian Nuns, it seems the only time they would ever move from the monastery they entered is for a new foundation.

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Peace to you Corban + It was a great joy and inspiration to me personally to have you and your friend with us for those six days.  I hope you will return to the monastery and pray with us very soon.  Sorry about the intense winter weather we seem to have there for so many months.  That can be a challenge. 

 

With regard to our recent discussions here - it's really not about where you choose to be.  I believe it's about discerning where God is calling you to be to adore Him and to serve. 

 

May you be blessed

your brother

john

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Wait, Gabriela, I have a question. You weren't disappointed by the solitude of the Carthusian Nuns in France though right? You mean here Bethlehem right?

 

Oh my goodness, no! They were very serious about their solitude. Every little thing about their life and community considers FIRST solitude, and only then whatever practical or other considerations need be made. They are really diehard solitaries. It is so important to them, and they know that, if you compromise solitude once, it's a slippery slope from there.

 

So, yeah, I meant only that I was disappointed that the MFB didn't prioritize solitude as much as the Carthusians. To them, it seems like solitude is a thing they try to do as much of as possible, but practical and other community considerations often push solitude aside. The Carthusians would have none of that.

 

Also, I think we've had this conversation about the Carthusians consecration of virgins before, and I can't remember what was said, but it's my impression that that consecration is optional. A sister only makes it if she wants to. I could be wrong about that. I remember the Novice Mistress in Reillane mentioning it to me, but I had zero interest in it, so I didn't ask further.

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With regard to our recent discussions here - it's really not about where you choose to be.  I believe it's about discerning where God is calling you to be to adore Him and to serve. 

 

This is a good point, John. I only harp on the difference between the MFB and the Carthusians because, when I was discerning, it was very difficult to find out about the real daily life of both of them. (I had plenty of surprises with the Carthusians, too!) So I just want women to know that, if they've discerned that God has called them to very strict solitude, then the MFB may not be the way to go.

 

That being said, I think a lot of people discern that God is calling them to solitude, and go visit the Carthusians, and then realize, "Oh my gosh, I don't think I'm called to THAT much solitude!" Very probably, the solitude of the MFB would be sufficient for most people. It's just important to realize that how much solitude one will have with the MFB will depend on the community's needs, where you're at in your formation process, etc. You're likely to get shuffled around in the work assignments, and in some of those, you'll have much less solitude than in others. Some of their sisters actually lead very busy lives.

 

Again, I think it needs to be said especially because it's pretty well impossible to find out how the MFB sisters really live until one has been discerning with them for quite a long time, and even then, one won't be able to have a comparable experience with them as one does with other orders, because they don't do "live-ins". (To most women, the School of Life is going to be totally equivalent to simply entering entering the order. I mean, really, who's going to take a year off to live with a community unless she's already pretty sure she's called there? It's a huge commitment.) To me, entering without a live-in was simply too much, and I couldn't understand why I couldn't have a live-in. I mean, even the Carthusians have live-ins! But the MFB sisters didn't seem to even be aware of the kind of arrangement I was talking about. There was a lot of miscommunication there.

 

So I'd say to anyone who wants to discern with the MFB: Go for a retreat at Livingston Manor, and be prepared for a whole lot of ambiguity. Discern well, because I think it will take a good deal of conviction about the call and total trust in God in general to enter the MFB with peace of mind. And if you feel that your call to the MFB is based on a call to solitude in particular (as opposed to the liturgy or the particular spirituality of the MFB), then I'd say visit the Carthusians, too. I recommend the charterhouse in Reillane, France. They are really lovely sisters, with four in formation. I'd say theirs is one of the healthiest communities I have ever visited.

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Yes, it means "house of the camel" which is "gamal" in Hebrew, but I think "jamal" in Arabic.

 

There was an Israeli documentary film about them several years ago.  Looks like a lovely community.
 

 

Does anyone know whether the  mentioned documentary film is available on the internet somewhere?

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Unless Antigonos meant this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pub5hHIokx8 (which I don't suppose) OR unless it appears in hebrew letters which I cannot read, it's not among them (as far as I can see).

 

No, that's not it.  This was a full documentary, I think about an hour long, and it's called "A Love Beyond Words".

This is the link I found, but it's really only a description.  I didn't find it on YouTube but  here

  is a link to Vimeo -- alas the sound track is in Hebrew, but visually it is interesting.  The sisters speak in French, IIRC, so perhaps some of you will understand bits.

 

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Antigonos-

 

Thank you so much for sharing that link to the Vimeo documentary.  I watched and savored every minute of it, without understanding any of the narration or speaking, except a few bits of the French. 

A gorgeous film, making their life look so very appealing.

 

Does anyone know whether the Monastic sisters of Bethlehem have converse or donate sisters as the Carthusians do?

 

Grace and peace to all.

Graciela

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I'll actually be making a silent retreat in Livingston Manor fairly soon (winter weather permitting, that is!) I've seen the monastery before, but this will be my first retreat with them. Does anyone have any suggestions or advice about how to make the most of my time there? Thanks!

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Sr Mary Catharine OP

They must now have heat in the hermitages! They didn't used to have them available during the winter months. BRING a lot of warm clothing. Often there is a 20 degree difference from the village to the monastery!

Good boots are a must as well.

 

just enjoy it!

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Peace to you Graciela + No the Monastic Sisters of Bethlehem do not have lay Sisters or Donates.  All are the same.  The individual discerns her Bethlehem vocation with her 'spiritual guide' aka the Prioress.  If the Sister discerns that she is called to be a 'Sister in Solitude' then that will be her direction.  These Sisters are the same as the Carthusian 'choir monks/nuns' and remain in the cell except for liturgy and community functions.  The rest of the community are assigned jobs that fit their needs and the needs of the community.  All, however, work in solitude.  Even if it's kitchen work the Sister will find a place where she can be in solitude to do her work - e.g. a kitchenette.  A consistent silence is always observed - it isn't unusual to see Sisters communicating via notes instead of speaking. 

 

Sponsa-Christi + I extend to you an advance welcome + Yes of course there is heat in the hermitages.  And the cook (me!) will provide you with hot soup and whatever you need.  Even if you forget to bring stuff we have 'everything under the sun' - except (at times) the sun.  We wait for you and we pray for you.  May your time with us be blessed.

 

your brother

john

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